Baby dressed as monkey - Carnival
February means just one thing to committed party people of all ages: Carnival. And Carnival here means one thing: dressing up. Well, not quite, but getting a costume shows you’re getting into the true spirit of it, and if you haven’t already planned your outfit, it’s time to get moving.
People of a creative turn-of-mind and good with their hands can find rolls of material, coloured foam and card of all shapes and sizes at Servei Estació (Aragó 270-272, www.serveiestacio.com). Alternatively, try the stalls of the Encants flea market (www.encantsbcn.com) for material off-cuts, unusual props and unique decorative features.
If you don’t fancy trying to put together the perfect lobster outfit from scratch, there are various outlets where you can find a costume to rent or buy. Menkes (Gran Via 642, www.menkes.es) is a Barcelona classic and well-located just minutes from Passeig de Gràcia. It’s an ideal place to find a range of outfits to rent, although you probably shouldn’t leave it to the last minute to check out their offerings. If you think you’re going to be getting a lot of use from your trendy witch or Roman centurion outfit, head to El Relámpago (Torrent de l’Olla 115, www.elrelampago.es)—they have costumes for sale starting around €25. Finally, the vintage shops on Carrer Riera Baixa should be a good source of dramatic dresses and retro suits.
Carnival 2010: the essential dates
Thursday 11th—Dijous gras (Fat Thursday). Get the week’s festivities off to a good, and traditionally Catalan, start by eating egg sausage (botifarra d’ou).
Tuesday 16th—This is the big one, when most of the more popular celebrations take place into the early hours, such as the flamboyant procession in Sitges, and the debauched night of Pullasu in the town of Torelló, an hour and a half from Barcelona.
Wednesday 17th—Dimecres de cendra (Ash Wednesday). After the hedonism of the all-night parties, this is the first official day of Lent and the main item on the agenda is burying a sardine. This strange tradition has unclear roots, but is often followed by a sociable sardine barbecue. And why not?